Many of us spent several days trying to escape the FIFA-fever that came over the world this past summer as the World Cup was being fought for. Many of us also spent several hours, crowded into hot, sweaty bars, watching intently as the hot, sweaty players kicked and head-butted the ball across the field. It was an event that was watched by millions of gay and straight people alike.
Yesterday, we heard the news that FIFA announced the location of the 2022 World Cup would be Qatar, a Middle Eastern country with 1.7 million people (which is smaller than the state of Connecticut). While normally, the location of a World Cup series would not be of much interest to Talk About Equality, there’s something quite troubling about this choice.
You see, in Qatar it is illegal to be gay (or at least to “commit acts of homosexuality”). By choosing Qatar to host the games, FIFA has stated quite plainly that it does not care about football’s gay fans (or players).
Just a few days after German footballer Mario Gomez urged gay players to come out, FIFA is telling its players quite the opposite.
Russia was chosen to host the 2018 games. And though Russia does not have the same laws banning homosexuality that Qatar does, one must note that Russia’s capital Moscow has banned gay pride marches and parades for years. They even went so far as to expell the organizer of the gay pride parade out of Russia.
What would happen if gay players, their allies, their fans, the companies that sponsor the teams were to boycott the games due to the bigoted laws on gays these countries hold? The world is changing pretty quickly, and hell 2018 and 2022 are 8 and 12 years away – might there be an opportunity here to create some real change?